Today, an artist must have a well-designed website in order to present their artwork to prospects, gallery owners, and other interested parties. At the minimum, an artist website should provide the viewer a sample of the artist’s art, an overview of their experience and their contact information.
Because of the overwhelming amount of artists who want to be represented by art galleries or who want to sell their art on their own, they must have a website that is easy to navigate and that will load quickly. If a visitor to their website requires too many “clicks” to a slow in loading and difficult to navigate website, the artist will risk losing that visitor.
Though an art website is the beginning of the selling process, a poorly designed and ineffective website can stop a prospect from investigating that artist’s work further. A professional artist website should have the following 10 basics for a visitor to evaluate whether they want additional information about the artist, their artwork, and experience;
1. Biography: An artist should have a summary of experience that will provide to the reader, at a quick glance, an overview of the artist’s education, experience, awards and honors. In addition this area would detail any related art experience and finally any article/publishing experience that the artist may have had.
2. Artist Statement: The artist should have a statement that will explain in a concise manner what their artwork means to them and their reasons for creating their artwork. Always, this information should be presented in plain English and in non-technical artistic terms to the reader.
3. Gallery or Portfolio: This area of the website is the most important section for the viewer. The artist should not overload this section with too much artwork, but rather it should have a good representation of their overall work which demonstrates their artistic skills. The images should load quickly and if the artist is selling on their own, pricing should be listed.
4. Representation: The artist should detail any current galleries, individuals and firms who represent the artist. This section has a two-fold purpose of letting the viewer know where they can see the artist’s work in person, but it also subliminally states to the viewer that there are other professionals who think that their art is worthy. It is a form of a third-party endorsement of their artwork.
5. Contact Information: Believe it or not, I see artists who omit this information on their websites! At the very least, an artist should provide, street address, telephone number and email address. In addition, provide, IM, fax and any secondary means of contacting the artist. Search engines like addresses! If possible, have the contact and address information in several areas on the website. This will help with the artist’s page rank.
6. Lead Capture: Have a section in the website or better yet, in a sidebar that appears on all pages for a viewer to sign up for additional information, newsletter, blog, mailing list, future shows etc. Make it easy for the viewer to do this too, otherwise most people will not make the effort to contact you on their own.
7. Social Media: The artist should provide links to various social media sites that they belong to and communicate through. In addition to providing the viewer with additional means to communicate with the artist, Social Media provides a means for the artist to develop and build their brand. At the very least, the artist should be promoting their artwork on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.
8. Press Releases & News: Any news of interest should be posted and showcased for any viewers to the website. This information can be about a gallery opening, sale of artwork or a donation of artwork to a local charity event. There are many free Press Release sites that artists can use to do this. These PR sites are looking for newsworthy information, not full out promotional pieces.
9. Links of Interest: Links should be industry related (not personal family and friend’s links). Links can include galleries where the artist has shown their art in the past, suppliers, museums and art related websites. When linking to someone, it is wise to always contact them and inform them that you are linking and the artist should always ask for a reciprocal link back to the artist website. Websites also get ranked based on the amount and the quality of backlinks.
10. Blog/Newsletter: If the artist has a blog or newsletter that is industry related (and the artist should have this to help drive traffic to their website) this should be included with any reprints or at least links to these publications.
Overall, these are the most important sections that an artist should have for their art website. If their current website does not have the capacity to allow the artist to have this information, then they should find a website hosting firm that can provide this. Speaking of web hosting, the artist should have a URL named after themselves. This makes it easy for any prospects, art galleries and any interested parties to find the artist on the Internet. If the artist’s website is with a package hosting/website company, then they should spend the extra money to register their name separately for their URL name too.
One other critical component that an artist should have is Google Analytics. This is a free service that you can have a with a free Google account. Google Analytics will show the artist exactly where their website traffic is coming from (search, links & direct traffic), how many visitors are new vs. how many are returning, what keywords are being used to find the website, what page they were on when they entered the website, how much time they spent on the site and provide to the website owner with an overall analysis of who their viewers are. Google explains in simple terms how a website owner can use this information to their advantage and how to fine tune their website and presentation for more traffic. Remember, this is free information that is provided by Google.
Besides the quality of their art, an artist website is one of the most important elements that an artist can have when it comes to showcasing, promoting and presenting their art. The website should be designed well for the viewer to evaluate the artist’s artwork and conversely, it should be designed for the artist to be able to evaluate who and why they are interested in the artist’s work.